When you hear the phrase “chipmunk vocal,” you immediately think of the sped-up vocals of the Alvin and the Chipmunks children’s show of the 80s. That helium sound is generally annoying to adults, but have you ever wondered what those songs would sound like pitched back down to human range?
Turns out they become accidental sludge pop masterpieces:
Toronto musician Brian Borcherdt (of Holy Fuck, Dusted, LIDS, By Divine Right, etc.) recently uploaded a selection of Chipmunks classics, played on the obscure 16 RPM speed of an old suitcase record player, and the results are oddly compelling.
The concept had been simmering on his back burner for quite a long time.
“Years ago when I first started playing with Holy Fuck, that turntable was one of the things we would bring around with us,” Borcherdt explains. “Sometimes we’d play various records really deep and guttural and slow, and work that into the fabric of whatever we were building. It’s not meant to travel though, and it eventually took a spill and broke. I never got the chance to do a bunch of things that I wanted to do, one of which was this Alvin and the Chipmunks thing.”
He kept buying old turntables, hoping to find a working one with the extra-slow speed. He’s so enamoured of them that he’s even considering making some videos, and tossed around the idea of putting together a live band to reinterpret the slowed-down versions.
“Why not? I really like it. I know it’s funny, but it’s also heavy, and it sounds beautiful. It makes you rethink the process involved, but there’s also just something poetic about it. Music is such an exploration of time, and it’s interesting the way you can manipulate that and change the intention. The vocals would have been recorded slow like that. That’s how the singer did them in a vocal booth in a studio, never to be heard in that original form.”
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